Around the World in 31 Days: Romania

be my cat

Source: imdb

Romania. The very name evokes dark forests, gothic ambiance, and the home town of one Vlad Tepes. Universal and Hammer horror films. Innocent frights and delights that kept you up as a kid, and bring you warm feelings of love as an adult.

I understand Romanians themselves are probably sick of the “Dracula” associations and just want to join the modern world like any other country.

Well, Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is a horror movie in a very modern (and American) tradition – found footage – and devoid of anything gothic, vampiric or supernatural. Its plot is driven by adulation for a major American Hollywood celebrity. Is this a point?

Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2015)
Director: Adrian Țofei
Writer: Adrian Țofei
Notable Cast: Adrian Țofei, Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton, Alexandra Stroe
Plot: An aspiring Romanian filmmaker obsessed with Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway goes to shocking extremes to convince Anne to star in his upcoming film. (source: IMdB)

Commentary: I have a mental file for certain films labeled “that shit ain’t right.” Films that leave me disturbed, shaken and ill  – including this one – will be filed there. Be My Cat is well made and very compelling, and its implied gore is more shocking than anything you explicitly see in a standard Saw movie.

Tofei understands the economy of a found footage movie, and with only four actors (inlcuding himself) and a small budget he created a story about obsession, delusion and cinema itself. It’s reminiscent of Mark Duplass’s Creep series, but I think Be My Cat is the more important work.

SPOILER: The ‘shocking extreme’ referenced in the plot summary above is that Tofei auditions three different actresses to be the lead in his film with the intention of torturing and killing them. He succeeds with two, and one becomes the Final Girl. These actresses are meant to represent Anne Hathaway, especially in general looks (none are close to dead ringers for her). The story develops in a very disturbing manner, both Tofei’s insane monologues dedicating his every action to Anne Hathaway, and the horrors he visits upon these women.

What We’re Afraid Of: I don’t know what “we” are afraid of, but if I were Anne Hathaway, I would never visit Romania without a large and well-trained security detail.

I think the film does a good job in profiling a delusional sociopath with notions of grandeur that don’t align with any sort of reality, and that permit him to commit whatever atrocity he cares to. We may also actually be afraid of being charmed by Adrian, just a tiny bit. He’s sick, but he’s also vulnerable and he dreams big. His actresses dreamed big. They got stuck in his web.

Finally, I think there is some sort of commentary here on cinema. Particularly American mainstream cinema, maybe American horror, and the culture of A-List celebrities. But I can’t put my finger on it. Will you help me figure it out?

Chillerpop takes your questions and comments here on this blog, on his Facebook page, and on Twitter (@ChillerPop).

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